Feature GB043: Is there productive morphological dual marking on nouns?

Patrons: Hedvig Skirgård



This question concerns a bound grammatical marker of dual number on nouns. The marker should occur with an open set of nouns, not with a restricted set. This feature contrasts with GB317 Is dual number regularly marked in the noun phrase by a phonologically free element? which focuses on the non-bound marking of dual number. For more on bound marking, please see this page. Bound marking of number on nouns derived from other word classes (such as adjectives or verbs) does not suffice for a 1.

Number marking is often fused with marking of other categories, such as definiteness/specificity or gender/noun class. It is possible for the number marker to also signal other functions and be coded as 1, as long as these other functions do not interfere with the number distinctions and as long as number marking is productive and regular.

It can be difficult to determine how obligatory markers of dual, trial and paucal number are since they can often be replaced by plural number marking. If the grammar writer describes the marker as denoting grammatical number and there are several examples, this suffices.


  1. Consider the section in the grammar that deals with number or nominal morphology.
  2. If the author describes a bound marker of dual number on the noun that occurs regularly, code 1.
  3. If the only marking of dual number occurs on nouns derived from other word classes (adjectives, verbs etc.) or on a small subset of nouns, code 0.
  4. If the grammar mentions that dual number is not marked productively, or that it is marked somewhere else than on the noun, code as 0.
  5. If the grammar does not describe number marking at all and you have a reason to believe that the author may have missed it, code ?.
  6. If the grammar does not describe number, you encounter no examples of number marking, and the grammar is otherwise comprehensive, code 0.


Garrwa (ISO 639-3: wrk, Glottolog: gara1269)

Garrwa has a suffix for dual number on nouns (-wiya), this is an example of 1 for this feature (Breen 2003: 435).

Nganinyi-wiya    bula-ngka  daba       ngubungu-na
man-DU           3DU-RECP   hit:REAL   boomerang-LOC
‘Those two men were fighting with boomerangs.’ (Breen 2003: 435)

Further reading

Corbett, Greville G. 2000. Number. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Breen, Gavan 2003. Wanyi and Garrwa comparative data. In Nicholas Evans (ed.), The non-Pama-Nyungan languages of northern Australia: Comparative Studies of the continent's most linguistically complex region, 425-462. Canberra: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University.

Morphological number marking

Phonologically free number marking

Number agreement within the noun phrase


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0 absent 2117
1 present 184
? Not known 97



Name Glottocode Family Macroarea Contributor Value Source Comment